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Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:32 pm
by Thrud
I have just aquired a nice new (old) bearded axe and I would like to put a new handle in it as the one it has is a touch too small for me personally.

I can't see how the axe head is fixed and would like to know how to go about making a new shaft and fitting it securely to the head.

Any ideas?

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:11 pm
by Thomas Hayman
It looks like the end of that handle simply bulges at the top and was wedged in good and tight.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:16 pm
by Thrud
How do you stop the head slipping down the shaft though?

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:19 pm
by Thomas Hayman
By wedging it a lot!!

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:46 pm
by Thrud
There are no visible wedges at all on it and it's slightly wobbly at the mo but does not want to slip down.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 7:42 pm
by Thomas Hayman
Sorry, i meant by wedging it further onto the shaft!

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 9:54 pm
by Sir_John_Thomas
All you need is a bit of brute force, axe heads once secured to the shaft, will get tighter and tighter the more you swing and use it.

put a good pair of boots on, stand the axe on its top on a hard surface (with a piece of wood on the floor, so not to damage the shaft)
and keep stamping down on the head. Then go chop down a few trees to seat the head in nice and tight. Its an old lumberjacks trick to secure a wobbly head.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:04 pm
by Thrud
I will go see my riendly woodman one of the evenings and get a nice ash shaft off him. Need some scabbard wood anyway.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:21 pm
by chrisanson
your axe is hafted (thicker at one end so it dont come off) bit like a pick axe

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:28 pm
by Thrud
It's not the top of the shaft I am thinking off, I can clearly see it's thicker at the top. My concern was that the head is loose and the shaft is a lot thinner below the head, I could not see what was stopping it slipping down.

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:34 pm
by chrisanson
take the head off and rub some shoe polish or somthing around the inside. put it back on the shaft and give it a good hard tap on somthing solid, then knock the head of the shaft. look at the shaft and where ever there is shoe polish shand the wood. repeat untill it as close as all round then put the head on and give it a really good hard smack, if you have got it right i doubt it will com off unless you really need it to come off. if you are haveing that much greaf with it send it to me and i'll do it for ya :wink:

Posted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:56 pm
by Thrud
Might take you up on taht if my own attempts don't work. I just want a longer shaft for it.

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:35 pm
by Panda
Also the 2 pointed parts on eiter side of the shaft can be hammered into the wood as well. :)

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:58 am
by Ranger Smith
NO dont hammer the cheeks (the pointed bits in) you will ruin a good axe. (they are there to aid stabability as the head twists not to secure it in place)

By the sound of it who ever made the handle made it like a pick axe handle and fitted it as such. Or the haft broke behind the head and they have wittled what was left of the shaft down to far and made it to small.

If you make a new haft where the head sits should resemble a flattened hour glass. the haft needs to be slightly thicker behind the head to stop it sliding down towards your hand. To fit the haft to the head cut a slot down through the haft (the length of the eye) then whittle the haft down untill it fits tightly into the eye and sticks out by 1/4 inch. make a wooden wedge cover in glue and nock it in. Dont cut off the exess 1/4 inch sticking out of the eye as it helps to secure the head (as it spreads wider than the eye). If it ever works loose stand the axe, head down in a bucket of Lin seed oil and it will tighten back up

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:12 pm
by Captain Reech
Depends on who you are with, last time I looked Regia had banned 'top hafted and wedged' axes in battle, as in the event of catastrophic failure, the head flies off, possibly into the crowd. Your Axe looks to be bottom hafted (head slipped over the bottom of the shaft and slid down until it sticks tight) which means, in a worse case scenario, the head slides down the shaft and hits you (No expensive public liability claim as you will have signed a waiver saying you take your own risks!) I would agree with the first suggestion, put your foot on it and bash it down as far as it will go (the linseed oil trick also works on this type of hafting) It might be possible to also put a wedge in the end, but check with your safety officer if this will be acceptable.

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:20 pm
by Lady Cecily
As far as I know the same goes for the Vikings - all axes must be reverse shafted. My other half always makes his own because it's important that the wood matches the axe head. They do jam on and will stay there if the shaft and bulb at the end is made to the right profile. :innuendo: :D

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:18 pm
by Dingo8MyBaby
If the head is lose then tamp the shaft on the ground and see if the head will sit firmly at the end of the shaft.
If it is still loose then then wood has dried and shrunk and you#ll need to use a drawknife or spoke shave to reshape the haft.
Do not remove too much as the end of the shaft needs to be bigger than the axe head to stop it flying off.
Try putting the end of the axe in a bucket and soaking it in wood oil such as you get in ikea to try and put some moisture back into the wood.

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Sat May 01, 2010 5:55 pm
by robin wood
I did a tutorial on making and fitting an axe handle a while ago. This was for proper working axes. I find the idea of fitting axe handles like pick axe handles for safety reasons a bit silly, I bet no one can show mean original axe hafted that way and none of us that use proper sharp tools for work would dream of hafting an axe that way.

Making an axe handle
http://www.bodgers.org.uk/bb/phpBB2/vie ... ndle#p4621
fitting an axe handle
http://www.bodgers.org.uk/bb/phpBB2/vie ... ndle#p4626

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Sat May 01, 2010 6:33 pm
by chrisanson
you could put the axe head on a suitable sapling and wait :twisted:

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Sun May 02, 2010 9:13 am
by Lady Cecily
robin wood wrote:I did a tutorial on making and fitting an axe handle a while ago. This was for proper working axes. I find the idea of fitting axe handles like pick axe handles for safety reasons a bit silly, I bet no one can show mean original axe hafted that way and none of us that use proper sharp tools for work would dream of hafting an axe that way.
Interesting, how about this rather famous picture where you can see the end of the shaft popping out at the top.
Harold.gif
Harold.gif (29.75 KiB) Viewed 6635 times
and it took me a little while because extant shaft are not very common but here is one from Novgorod
NovgorodMus310axe1.jpg
Other thoughts, the safety thing is for the safety of the public not the user (no one wants an axe head flying into a crowd) Also, if you are actually fighting with one, you don't want your opponent to be able to hook it and take it off the end of the shaft. Another thought is that the diamond shape profile of the likes of the Mammen axe possibly indicate a need for the metal to grip the wood.

The other thought is that these aren't woodworking axes we are talking about but long shafted axes for killing people - might that make a difference? Just a stream of thought really - very happy to enter a debate about this.

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Tue May 04, 2010 11:18 am
by Medicus Matt
robin wood wrote: I bet no one can show mean original axe hafted that way
I've just been through Engelhardt's books on the 4th/5th C bog deposits in Denmark and found pictures of three examples.

Here's (an albeit very low res scan) one.
Thorsb.JPG

Re: Re-shafting an axe.

Posted: Wed May 05, 2010 1:50 pm
by Medicus Matt
And these 3rd century ones from Illerup.
illerup axes.jpg